Here's a tape that I found fascinating. It's not an easy listen - the sound quality is abysmal, even after I worked on it quite a bit to eliminate a lot of humming and buzzing - but if you can get past that, and are the type to like things like audio letters, you may also find something to enjoy here, even if once is probably going to be enough.
I've certainly been on my share of conference calls, but here's something I didn't know until I played this tape: you could arrange a conference call via the telephone company way back in the dial phone era, at least back to the date on this tape, which is nearly 50 years ago. I'm not talking about party lines, which were common back then, and in some cases were the only phone lines people had, but actual, prearranged conference calls. This tape not only demonstrates what those primitive conference calls sounded like, it also captures the clunky, time consuming way one had to set the call up in the first place.
What's captured here in the last 25 minutes of this 30 minute tape is a group of friends all calling yet another friend to wish him a happy birthday.
But as mentioned, it starts with a recording of the long-winded process of setting up the call. The person whose idea it was calls the operator, gets transferred wrong and starts over again, before finally ending up with the conference call operator. He then has to spend three minutes giving the names and phone numbers of all of the people who will be on the call - to be made later in the day - and setting up the parameters of that call, which includes making sure the operator calls everyone NOW to make sure they know there will be the conference call later in the day, and at what time. I can only imagine how much this must have cost...
Then it's on to the actual call, which - aside from some terrible phone connections - sounds much like any other recording of a group of people all coming together to say Happy Birthday to someone they all know. That it's all over some fairly shaky phone connections adds a touch of weirdness to the proceedings - one participant is thought to have missed the call, only to show up as if there all along near the end - and it is, as mentioned, hard to listen to. But I thought I'd pass it along to others who might enjoy this moment in time.
I note about the date: the person who set up the call quite clearly gives a date of August 9, 1966, at the start of the tape. A different date is written on the tape box, and I'm not quite sure what to make of that, but I'm going with the date heard on the tape.
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